MAPLE LEAFS (11-8-2) at LIGHTNING (9-8-2)
TV: RIS (HD), SNET-O, SUN (HD)
Toronto 4-5-1; Tampa Bay 5-5-0
This is the first of four meetings. The Lightning won all four matchups last year, three in regulation.
The Maple Leafs are in the midst of a four-game road trip and looking to regain the consistency that was there early in the season. The Lightning have had their share of problems, but playing at home hasn't been one of them. They are 6-2-0 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
After a dominating 7-1 win at home against the Washington Capitals, the Leafs couldn't match that performance the next night in a 3-2 road loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Leafs fell behind early and never recovered, clearly showing weary legs in back-to-back games.
"I thought we were doing fine in the first period," coach Ron Wilson said. "I don't think they had very many scoring chances. But in the second period we didn't have much energy and we didn't work smart."
Down 3-0 at home against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, the Lightning made a strong push in the third period to cut the lead to 3-2.
But a late goal by Ryan Carter short-circuited the comeback in what turned out to be a 4-2 loss to the Devils. Coach Guy Boucher was upset with his team's performance.
"We had some players show up tonight: (Ryan) Shannon, (Martin) St. Louis, (Steve) Downie and (Brett) Connolly," Boucher said. "This game takes a full team effort and tonight we just didn't have enough."
Toronto's Phil Kessel
hasn't cooled off all season. He has 4 goals in his last 4 games. … Tampa's offense has hit a rough patch of late with 10 goals in 5 games, but Vincent Lecavalier
has 2 goals and 2 assists during that stretch.
For the Leafs, goaltender James Reimer
(head/neck) is out but getting closer to returning. Centers Mikhail Grabovski
(leg) and Matthew Lombardi (upper-body) are out along with defenseman Mike Komisarek
(arm) and forward Mike Brown
(undisclosed). Winger Clarke MacArthur
(upper-body) is considered day-to-day.
The Leafs have played nine home games and 10 road games. They have been credited with 187 hits on the road and 254 at Air Canada Centre.
"From our standpoint, we need to play desperate hockey. Guys are going to have to step up. It doesn't matter what your role has been, it's probably going to change here in the next couple of games." -- Leafs center David Steckel in the Globe and Mail about the team's slew of injuries